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Virtual reality helping students understand texting and driving dangers

Fargo, N.D. (WDAY) -

Students at a West Fargo High School in North Dakota are learning about the dangers of texting and driving through virtual reality.

From the outside it looks like they're watching a movie, but behind the goggles tells a different story.

"Accident after accident until finally he actually crashes into somebody because he won't put down the phone," said West Fargo High student Bobby Dorbor.

It's all a part of AT&T's 'It Can Wait' campaign, which puts these driver's ed students behind the wheel while texting through VR.

A problem this school resource officer sees all too much from students who grew up in a world immersed with technology.

"Normally even walking down the hall their heads buried in their phones but they're not aware of their surrounding areas. If that carries on into the vehicles, it becomes very dangerous for them or anyone around them while they're driving," said West Fargo High SRO Jason Balvik.

On top of these demonstrations, Officer Balvik also teaches students to put down the phone before they start driving, and surprisingly their phones can help.

"Anytime technology is used for the right thing, it's a great thing. If it's misused or mishandled it can be an issue," said Officer Balvik.

Outside of the classroom, there are different apps that shut down any notifications to your phone to erase the distraction completely.

The larger goal here is to be proactive against a nationwide issue of texting and driving.

"Unfortunately, it is increasingly nationwide that distracted driving is starting to overtake fatalities on drunk driving and different things like that," said Officer Balvik.

He says seeing the situation up close helps students understand the scope of how quickly an accident can happen.

"Pretty breathtaking, and you take the time to understand what's going on," said Dorbor.

Helping these students break a habit before it even starts.

After watching the simulation, each student could sign a pledge to not text and drive.


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